Friar Basketball

A Different Type of Alumni Hall Memory

MAL Houston Baptist

For many long-time fans of Providence basketball, Friday night was a time to reminisce. This was the first time the Friars played a regular season game on campus in Alumni Hall in over 40 years.

Alumni is the building that saw the rise of Providence as a national power in the 1960’s, paving the way for the excellence of the 70’s, which included a Final Four run in 1973.

For someone who only knows the Friars of the Civic/Dunkin Donuts Center, I spent much of the pregame and early portion of PC’s 84-55 win over Houston Baptist wondering just how difficult it must have been for opposing teams to come into this building and win.

As Providence blew the game open in the first half those thoughts shifted to a different Alumni Hall memory — Ed Cooley’s first game as Providence’s head coach.

Our first look at a Cooley-led Friar team came in October 2011 in an exhibition against Assumption College. Nothing historically noteworthy came from the 64-51 victory. The only thing I remember six years later is Cooley pulling his regulars off of the floor and going with a lineup that included walk-ons Ted Bancroft, Chris Carter, and Mike Murray to send an early message to a group that had gotten all-too-familiar with not playing defense under Keno Davis.

It was the loudest Alumni got that evening.

That prompted a look back at the box score from 2011. What I found was somewhat eye-opening.

LaDontae Henton scored 14 points in his Friar debut, and Bryce Cotton showed early signs of what would be a breakout sophomore season with 16, but this was a shallow roster.

Brice Kofane started at center alongside Cotton, Henton, Vincent Council, and Gerard Coleman. The bench consisted of the three aforementioned walk-ons, and borderline Big East players in Bilal Dixon, Ron Giplaye, and Lee Goldsbrough.

How times have changed in Providence.

The last time the Friars took to the court in a game that mattered was in last year’s NCAA Tournament against USC.

The Friars leading scorers that night? Emmitt Holt (18), Jalen Lindsey (17), and Rodney Bullock (17).

Playing without Holt and Lindsey against Houston Baptist on Friday night, the depth of Cooley’s group was on display in the season opener.

Eight Friars scored at least seven points, and Providence got 38 points from its substitutes.

Maliek White led PC with 13 points off of the bench, a group that also consisted of freshmen Nate Watson (who made all four of his field goals in an impressive first half), and Makai Ashton-Langford (8 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists). Watson and Ashton-Langford were both elite level recruits out of high school, and it’s hard to imagine them coming off of the bench for many Providence teams over the past 20 years, but this is how the program has evolved.

Of course, Kyron Cartwright remains the catalyst. Playing with the confidence he came with as a freshman combined with the experience of a player who has started games for four years, the senior point guard is in complete control on the offensive end. Cartwright finished with 10 points, 10 assists and four rebounds in under 30 minutes of action.

Particularly impressive was Isaiah Jackson, who stepped into a starting slot pegged for either Lindsey or Holt in the offseason with ease, burying three 3-point shots and finishing with 11 points and four rebounds.

There were miscues — most notably at the free throw line and in running sharpshooter (and one-time Butler commit) David Caraher off of the 3-point line — but tonight’s season debut was just another reminder of the type of quality depth the Friars have and how Cooley has built it.

***

Box score: http://grfx.cstv.com/photos/schools/prov/sports/m-baskbl/auto_pdf/2017-18/box_score/stats_20171111aaa.pdf 

 

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